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AQIP Frequently Asked Questions

Blending continuous quality improvement
with college and university accreditation.

The next step in our innovative journey.

What is accreditation?
Institutional accreditation is provided by regional and national associations of schools and colleges. There are six regional associations, each named after the region in which it operates (middle States, New England, North Central, Northwest, Southern, Western). An institutional accrediting agency evaluates an entire educational institution in terms of its mission and the agency's standards or criteria. It accredits the institution as a whole. Besides assessing formal educational activities, it evaluates such things as governance and administration, financial stability, admissions and students services, institutional resources, student learning, institutional effectiveness, and relationships with internal and external constituencies.

What is AQIP?
Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) is an alternative process through which an organization can maintain its accredited status with The Higher Learning Commission. AQIP’s goal is to infuse the principles and benefits of continuous improvement into the culture of colleges and universities in order to assure and advance the quality of higher education. AQIP allows an organization to demonstrate that it meets The Higher Learning Commission’s Criteria for Accreditation and other expectations through processes that align with the ongoing activities that characterize organizations striving continuously to improve their performance. By sharing both its improvement activities and their results through AQIP, an organization develops the structure and systems essential to achieving the distinctive higher education mission it has set for itself — and the evidence to enable the Commission to reaffirm accreditation.

AQIP was developed and launched in 1999 with a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts. It has grown steadily from its original 14 institutions in 2000-2001 to over 180 in 2007. Its Web site,, lists the number and names of current participants, and provides full details about AQIP’s Strategy Forums, Systems Appraisals, and various other services. The Web site also provides links to information that supports AQIP’s network of participants.

Based upon principles common to high performance organizations, AQIP draws from a variety of initiatives and programs — Total Quality Management (TQM), continuous improvement (CI), Six Sigma, ISO 9000 registration, state and national quality awards, and others. Many of AQIP’s quality principles — focusing on key processes, basing decisions on data, decentralizing control, empowering faculty and staff to make the decisions that directly affect their work — have long been traditions in higher education, although their form and the breadth of their practice in particular institutions may vary greatly. Other components such as systems thinking and stakeholder focus appear at first to be new to academia, but turn out to be in close alignment with the values and behaviors of higher educators.

To provide a new process for maintaining accreditation, AQIP has created a new set of analytic categories, activities, and procedures that are different from those used in traditional accreditation while continuing to assure that institutions meet the Commission’s Criteria for Accreditation.

Why is regional accreditation important?
Accreditation provides assurance to the public, in particular to prospective students, that an institutional has been found to meet the accrediting agency's clearly stated requirements and criteria and that there are reasonable grounds for believing that it will continue to meet them.

Accreditation provides both public certification of acceptable institutional quality and an opportunity and incentive for self-improvements in the accrediting institution.

What is my role in the accreditation process?
Every member of the college is important in the AQIP process. Everyone makes a difference. The AQIP process requires the participation of all staff.

Engagement by every member of the College is important in AQIP.  It requires the participation of all staff and everyone makes a difference.  When becoming an AQIP institution, the College commits to a systematic initiative to improve continuously its academic and related processes and results by the following:

How will this accreditation process be different than the accreditation process used in the past?
Previously, accreditation involved comprehensive visits from accrediting teams, self-study reports, focused visits and progress reports. Under AQIP, the focus is continuous improvement, aligning of processes and procedures, action projects, and quality initiatives as well as maintaining the Criteria for Accreditation.

AQIP helps the college focus on six key areas (categories). More details can be found at the following link:

For additional information, Email Susan Yohnk Lockwood, Vice President, Institutional Effectiveness and New Richmond Campus Administrator.


Statement of Affiliation Status

WITC Quality Improvement Steering Committee